RWTH Aachen University is the largest technical University in Germany and is promoted by the National Initiative for University Excellence. The Department of Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE), Institute of Applied Medical Engineering and the Neonatology Section of the Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine both entities of the Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Germany have already performed joined research on the topic of the artificial placenta incorporating the development of a neonatal oxygenator and the practical research of the cannulation process performed on premature lambs. Additionally, the CVE is well known for the development of heart assist and lung assist devices and their preclinical testing including computer simulations and the development and design of special purpose in-vitro test setups. Over the past decade PD Dr.-Ing. Jutta Arens build up the Group `Artificial Lung Technologies´ within the CVE, at the beginning mainly focusing on miniaturization concepts for oxygenators used for newborns and preterm infants. This resulted in research on a heart-lung machine for neonates with congenital heart defect MiniHLM and the artificial placenta system NeonatOx in close cooperation with the clinical partners. Miniaturization and modularization concepts for ECMO systems were investigated to personalize treatment and to allow for mobilization of ICU patients including the development of new production methods. An overarching goal has been the improvement of hemocompatibility of oxygenators in order to increase the life expectancy beyond the currently, and mostly theoretically, achievable 28 days. Therefore, the group works on reliable CFD simulation concepts for oxygenators and flow visualization inside the oxygenators´ fiber bundle by PIV in order to be able to validate the flow simulations in detail and to better understand flow distribution between the hollow fibers. Improving blood flow in oxygenators´ fiber bundle, simulation of gas exchange, modeling and evaluation of thrombus growth in vitro, and influence of pulsatile blood flow on the gas exchange performance of the oxygenator are current research topics.
Jan Heyer is a PhD student in mechanical engineering. He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and another in Economics. Within his PhD, he specialized in paediatric and neonatal applications in medical technology. Within the PLS project, Jan works on the liquid environment and artificial placenta inside.